A recent rise in harassment cases against husbands in India has highlighted the need for awareness of husband rights under various laws. Mental Harassment, physical & psychological abuse, and cruelty are considered valid grounds for divorce and the husband has all the rights to file a case against his wife and her parents (if involved) if he is subject to harassment. There exists a general misconception that only wives face harassment in marriages, however, it can be the opposite case as well.
Spousal abuse is a serious issue in India which is not limited to women. Unfortunately, there are no specified laws that are formulated to protect the interests of the husband. There are so many instances in India where husbands have been a victim of harassment from their wives and family. Moreover, in such cases there also exists a fear of false dowry case in the event the husband takes any legal action against the wife.
Various Forms of Harassment Faced by a Husband from His Wife's Parents
Here are various forms of harassment that husbands may face from their wife's parents.
1. Verbal and Emotional Abuse
Being subject to verbal and emotional abuse such as humiliation or name calling in front of your friends or family by the husbands is not so uncommon nowadays. Emotionally blackmailing the husband and getting him separated from his parents forcefully by making frivolous scenarios and reasons by the wife and her parents is also considered verbal and emotional abuse. There are many instances where the abusive wife and her parents are acting very possessive of your time and money and putting false elements in your mind resulting in a drastic drift from your parents and family and friends as well. Wrongful accusations of unfaithfulness and threats to leave are also vital reasons for the breaking of marriages and when it comes from the wife’s parents it appears to be true and legitimate. It's more like playing from the mind of the victim.
2. False Accusations to Damage Reputation
False accusations of cheating, threatening, dowry, or domestic violence harm the reputation of a person to a different level and sometimes there is no recovery from it. However, certain counter-sections can be filed by the husband whenever he faces any false accusations from the wife or her parents.
You Might be Interested in How to deal with a false dowry case
3. Legal Harassment
The wives file false complaints against the husband and his family under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code for physical assault and mental cruelty. It is a cognizable and non-bailable offense and the husband can be arrested without any warrant or examination. A single complaint from the wife or her parents and the husband and his family can end up in jail.
Every year we see a drastic increase in false harassment cases against the husband and the wives use it falsely to feud on their spouses and innocent family members. It causes great harm and harassment to the husband and his family. Recently, the Supreme Court of India has declared it to be a new legal terrorism.
Can The Husband File A Case Against His Wife's Parents?
Yes, the husband can file a case against the wife and her parents if he is subject to any kind of harassment under the following sections:
Section 120-B – Punishment for Criminal Conspiracy - This section discusses punishment for criminal conspiracy if there is any conspiracy between the wife and her parents. A case can be filed against the wife and her parents if she or her family conspires in any crime against the husband or his family.
Section 167 – Public Servant Framing an Incorrect Document – A case can be filed against the police officers if found to have acted with malicious intention or framed wrongful charges against the husband and his family using their legal position wrongfully.
Section 191 – Giving False Evidence - A husband may file a case against the wife and her parents if he feels that wrong or false evidence has been filed in the court of law to frame false charges against him and his family.
Section 471 - Using Forged documents as Genuine - When any forged document is filed as genuine against someone, a criminal complaint can be filed against them under this section.
Section 324 – Voluntary Causing Hurt by Dangerous Weapon or Means – When any voluntary harm is caused by using dangerous means or weapons, one can resort to this section for remedy. A husband can file a case against his wife if she is being violent or aggressive towards him due to agony. In some cases, it leads to the death of the husband, and then murder charges apply to the wife.
Section 506 – Punishment for Criminal Intimidation – This section is used for the punishment for criminal intimidation when a wife wrongfully frames charges against the husband to harass the husband and his family.
Other Legal Remedies
Since there are no particular procedures given by the law for the husband to file a harassment case against a wife or her parents, there are some other remedies they can refer to make their case stronger:
1. Gather all the evidence and documents - As a first step one should start assembling all the evidence in their favor along with other substantial material to file a case under the Section 498A of IPC. This evidence may include any recorded conversations among the family regarding any dispute or disagreement, text messages, pictures, letters, slips, or any other written document. One should also keep the records to clear the ground of evidence that no dowry demand was made from the wife while she was moving out of her matrimonial house.
2. Apply for Anticipatory Bail - If one feels that a case under Section 498A will be filed against them by their wife or her parents, they should apply for anticipatory bail and hire some criminal lawyer to protect them as well as their family members.
3. File a case under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure - A false case of Section 498A can be defeated by filing a complaint under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure by the husband and his family, if they have sufficient proof and records to justify their case and satisfy the court that the allegations are false and frivolous.
4. Defamation Case - The husband can file a defamation case against the wife by filing a FIR.
Famous Cases and Landmark Judgment
Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar
The case was about dowry allegations by the wife towards the husband and the family. She alleged that she was removed from her matrimonial house for the non-fulfillment of the demands for which the husband has applied for anticipatory bail. The Supreme Court of India observed that Section 498 A is often used as a weapon by the wives rather than a shield. The court stated that any arrest under Section 498A i.e. matrimonial cruelty should be done by checking all the grounds and evidence to detect the genuineness of the allegation.
BiBi Parwana Khatoon vs State of Bihar
In this case, the wife was killed by setting her up on fire by the husband and his family as per the allegations. When it was challenged in the Supreme Court of India, it was observed that the appellants did not even reside at the place where the incident took place. There is no substantial evidence to prove that the charge was beyond reasonable doubt and the court acquitted the husband and his family and held that it must guard the innocent people against the false implications of the relatives.
Sushil Kumar Sharma vs Union of India
In this case, the Honorable Supreme Court of India held that the object of the women's protection laws was to prevent crime and harassment towards women. However, many instances have come to light where the complaints are not bonafide and have been filed with malicious intentions. The question that stands before the court of law is what remedial measures can be taken to prevent such abuse and harassment against the husband and his family. It was stated that a procedure is required to deal with such false allegations until the lawmaker does not frame proper legislation.
Whenever we think of dowry or harassment cases in marriages, we tend to assume that it is always a woman who could be the victim. However, not all the time is that the case. It is very significant for us to start acknowledging the fact that even husbands can face mental harassment and cruelty from their wives and their families. There should be specific laws protecting their interests as well. Taking adequate action against the victim who misuses the legal provisions is the duty of the law, and seeking consultation with a lawyer is essential.